I like to think I'm a fairly frugal guy. I save money, I try not to use my credit card and I keep my dollars and cents in order. That's why when I want to buy a game, I usually go to trade in and buy a pre-owned copy of whatever I want. Today I'm here to tell you that I am quitting pre-owned games, and why you should too.
I know why people buy used games: because they're cheap thrills. You pay a lower sticker price for the same game experience, then trade it in when you're done with it to get cash off the next titles you buy. Simple.
But before you buy your next pre-owned game, you should think about who is winning and who is losing in the equation.
Buying used games to play in current generation consoles is fine, but much has already been said about upcoming next generation consoles like the new Xbox from Microsoft and the new Playstation from Sony. Patents, rumours and plans have emerged as recently as today that point to the fact that Sony and Microsoft are no fans of the used game market, presumably because they don't get any cash from you picking up a cheap copy of Skyrim or Bioshock from EB Games, for example. I'm not so worried about the big console companies here, instead I'm worried about developers.
My concern is that when I buy a used game, none of the money that I paid for it goes back to the developers that poured countless hours into making the game that I'm playing great. Instead, all of the cash for a used game goes back to the company that bought it from some random guy trading stuff in.
Game retailers buy games from customers for a fraction of the price they on-sell them for, meaning that the only people getting paid in the whole used game equation is the retailer, not the studio that built the game.
Just last week we saw the sad story of THQ, who after producing countless awesome games like Darksiders and Saints Row, would fold and sell of its IP to pay the bills. This is just one studio in a slew of studios that have shut down due to tough times over the last few years. I want to start supporting these game studios again, because more studios means more games for us to play.
Now you might say that buying games new rather than used is frightfully expensive, and to a degree, I'd side with you on that, but consider this:
Games have always been expensive. You might think that brand-new, AAA games — especially those sold in Australia — are the most expensive they have ever been. Not so.
In 1984, an new-release 8-bit title would set you back $50. Adjusted for inflation, that puts the cost of a game at $137.45 in today's money for a simple, 8-bit title. In the almost 30 years since then, game development has become a multi-million dollar process that requires countless developers, yet still the cost of a game in Australia has fallen to around $90.
Australia does have a problem with high priced games, due to a struggling retail sector, Australia Tax-style mark-ups and the cost of doing business, but I would still have no qualms with paying full sticker price for a new, in-box game from now onwards, because I want store shelves to be overflowing with great games, because those playing have supported the industry with previous purchases. If you really have an issue with high game costs in Australia, try one of the off-shore importers like OzGameShop, or tune into OzBargain for stuff on sale.
On top of all that, I want all the added goodies that go along with my game. If I have to spend an extra $10-$20 to get an online code or some on-disc downloadable content, it renders the point of buying cheaper used games irrelevant.
I'm Luke Hopewell, and I will never buy a used game again. Who's with me?
Do you buy used games?
Image: Alex Kidman